What a funny, amazing, strange, hard, brilliant year it has been. I realised recently that seeing an increase in people reading Guac & Roll each day means there’s a lot of you I’ve never met. So I wanted to say...
I remember when I knew it was only three or four of you reading. So I decided I'd switch photographer duties for the day, and asked the amazingly talented Sophie Davidson to come and take some photos of me, my local shop, my desk, and my kitchen. The end of the year seemed as good an excuse as any to do a proper introduction this way, and it was also a great reason to spend the day chatting to Sophie, who has also been working on food photography for The Groundnut and Oh Comely.
Instead of listing some facts- which you can probably already read on my About section- I figured I may as well just answer a few questions I know I’d love to find out about the bloggers I follow and behind the scenes of their updates and Instagram posts (because we're all just as nosy as each other, yeah?).
How I started writing on Guac & Roll:
I have always written and have always loved documenting the tiniest details- and I think platforms like blogging and Instagram have come to replace diaries and letter writing in that way, and I love them for that. I didn’t have an iPhone when I started writing Guac, so I just took photos on my Blackberry and uploaded it to my Tumblr page. I think those first few posts really helped me realise I was making this whole vegan thing real, and I could see I was eating well, and it was all colourful, delicious stuff- and I could show other people it wasn’t just some super-restrictive diet. And that was always the main thing- that conversation where people ask- “Well, what do you eat?”- and you can say- “Well, here’s a photo of the amazing thing I made last night…” etc.
After moving Guac over to a blog, I saved a little money to turn it into a SquareSpace site, where Guac lives now, but it still has the blog layout as it’s my favourite way to keep up with the sites I read.
I used to try and write a new blog once a day, and would cycle into work a few hours early to post photos from the night before, but now I try to steer clear of rules like that and just add to Guac when I especially want to say something. I do want to post more though- it’s going to be my resolution for 2016 to find a way to do it every day so it’s natural. I have so much to say, like, all the time.
Is Guac & Roll my full time job?
After a few years of working a number of jobs alongside my full time work, and a lot of pep talks from a handful of inspiring friends, I decided it was a good time to make the leap into working for myself. So Guac leads all my decisions, and I’d love to be writing here for years to come, and hopefully will be. I work with about five clients as a copywriter, and about five publications as a regular contributer, as well as the Guac & Roll Kitchen work I do. So although Guac isn’t my full time job, it’s enabled everything else, including not actually having a full time job any more.
What do I want to do with Guac? Where’s it going?
My dream, and what I’m working towards, is to turn my experiences as a new vegan into a book. There’d be recipes, tips, city travel guides, suggestions and some thoughts on wider vegan ethics/ why animals are amazing. And while cookbooks are my absolute vice, (I can sit for hours on the floor of Foyles just moseying through the new ones) I’d want a Guac cookbook to be different. So right now I’m working on exactly what that would be.
What my average day looks like:
I split my time between writing and cooking, which seems to be working out pretty well for me! Most days I’ll have a deadline, try to write a blog for Guac, and maybe have a batch of brownies to make for someone, or dinner to test a recipe I’m working on.
The other food blogs I follow:
Food blogs are my favourite kind of internet, and because I aim to cook (and write about) vegan food that can stand up against any meat, dairy, eggs or fish dishes, I try to make what I read a pretty varied diet. Rachel Eats is a long-term Sunday morning go-to. I *love* Oh, Ladycakes for any baking tips, and the photography, and My Darling Lemon Thyme is also great for every-day meals that you feel inspired by to add a little extra pizazz. The First Mess is a firm fave (I always find everything I Pin is from there…) and Pinch of Yum is full of practical info. Minimalist Baker has saved my arse a few times when I’ve not been able to veganise a baking recipe for love nor money, and My New Roots is my favourite place to hang out with a cup of coffee on a day off.
Who and what inspires my cooking:
I’m mostly inspired by the food I try, wherever that is, and the other vegans I meet, and how they cook. Food that can be shared is my main motivation, so I like to know what other people love to cook, how they came upon those recipes, and what they aspire to make.
Living in London since I was 18 means I’m used to making meals on a budget, and I like being able to buy things from my (amazing) local Turkish supermarket, and getting to know all those ingredients well, like different lentils, beans, rice and hummus recipes. I’m currently trying to make the best hummus ever but I suspect it will be a lifelong thing. Overall, I like food that’s been cobbled together, not over-thought, maybe made in order to use up a glut of leftovers, something natural in how it’s been chosen.
What’s my favourite type of food to cook?
As I cook more and more for crowds, I’m becoming totally convinced that buffets are not just the way of the 1970s, but the way of the future. Hear me out!! I can’t stand food that’s been fiddled with and arranged half to death, and would much rather prefer to spend my energy making big bowls and dishes where there is plenty in abundance, without anyone wasting food by having something on their plate they would never intend to eat. I think with buffets, you get to decide, and it means it’s much easier to keep leftovers back too. I love putting together huge, colourful menus focusing on the seasons, what’s available near me and the needs of my guests- something I can't wait to do more in 2016.
Who are my fave Instagrammers?
@yesitsallvegan for super practical tips for veganism in London, tips on cooking vegan food, and a lot of biscuits and gravy love.
@mezandtwoveg is written by Meriel from @clubmexicana, both ace vegan accounts.
@moosewood_restaurant because when they post photos of food, it’s incred.
@homegrownsmoker kinda semi-achievable vegan BBQ goals
@wearedumdumgirls because we need more inspiring vegans like Dee Dee
@takeamegabite for some crazy baking ideas, even if it’s not vegan.
@fatpasha for presenting gorgeous spreads of food.
@claracakes for more baking inspo.
@kitsunetsukiki for ideas of what to make when you have no clue what’s for lunch.
Where else do I go for inspiration?
I use Pinterest loads. You can follow my food-based page here, which is where I update with any recipes and photography I’ve found especially inspiring for that season. Most evenings I’m faced with a fridge full of vegetables from my vegetable bag so I’ll be searching ‘how to use up another celeriac’ or whatever, but I also love it for the out-and-out ridiculous food photography, even if they're nothing like the photos I manage to take.
And on that note...
Thank you to all my readers this year. It's so great to see you dropping by on Guac, and hearing about how your recipes went. If you have time, I'd love to hear about what you like to cook, what inspires you, and any other food blogs or Instagram accounts you think deserve a bit mote attention - I'm always on the look out for more inspiration. I'll most likely be posting again between now and the New Year, but here's to some happy festivities anyway- to next week and beyond, in case the home time sherry gets the better of me... have a great one!